Online shopping is nothing new in today’s world, but shopping on an active railway line is something we haven’t seen much, right? Maeklong Railway market in Thailand is an ideal example of shopping online right on a railway track. The market literally sits on the railway track and every day, almost eight times, the customers and shopkeepers make way for the Bangkok-Maeklong train to pass.
MaeKlong railway station
At first glance, it seems like an ordinary market selling everything under the sun to tourists and locals. It is a favourite place for locals, who are on the lookout for fresh fish and seafood, along with their daily stock of fruits and vegetables. Tourists in long-rimmed sun hats also test their bargaining skills while buying fancy dresses and shoes along with fake branded watches and sunglasses. It is also a foodies’ paradise, as tourists can munch on the Thai street food watching the locals go on with their daily chores.
Everything looks like a normal market and only close inspection of the ground will reveal a metre-guage railway track. Large portions of track are covered under the wares displayed by the shopkeepers. The market runs in a typical Thai laidback style, but things change with the ringing of a warning bell followed by an announcement in Thai over the loudspeaker. Within seconds, the vendors pull back their specially designed awnings. That’s why the market is locally known as the ‘Talad Rom Hup’, which translates into “Umbrella Pulldown Market.”
Locals shop at Maeklong Rail Market
Baskets of goods are dragged away from the tracks, the overhead sheds are drawn back and the tracks are cleared for the train to pass. Some shopkeepers even prefer to keep their wares in the middle of the track making sure that they are safe from the train’s metal wheels. Photographers stand in line along the edge of the track. Few of these photo enthusiasts are waved back by the locals, who suspect they are a little too close to the tracks. Everything happens so calmly and with such clockwork precision that it’s difficult to fathom it could be a matter of life and death. The train runs so close that you can actually touch it or even shake hands with the engine driver, or “captain”, as they are called.
A passenger on a train tries a selfie
The market is located about 80km from Bangkok. Tourists are advised to reach the market well before the train schedule as the market itself is worth exploring. There are a handful of cafes next to the rail track and tourists can watch the train pass while sipping on coconut water. Food happens to be the main attraction of the market and chilled coconut water along with its tender flesh sells like hot cake during the summer months. Ice creams of different varieties, including coconut ice cream, also top the selling list.
Tourists at Maeklong Rail Market
Do visit the Maeklong Railway station, which is the terminating point of the train and located barely 100m away from the market.
The train timings are as follows: 6.20am, 8.30am, 9am, 11.10am. 11.30am, 2.30pm, 3.30pm and 5.40pm. But trains don’t always run on time and are subject to change.